Church Condemns Murder of Gubernatorial Candidate

Catholic leaders condemned the June 28 assassination of a gubernatorial candidate in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where elections are scheduled for July 4 in an atmosphere of violence linked to warring narcotics-trafficking cartels. Gubernatorial front-runner Rodolfo Torre Cantu was gunned down along with four others as their campaign convoy traveled to the airport in Ciudad Victoria, 200 miles south of the Texas border at McAllen. Torre, a physician and candidate for the locally powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party, led all polls for the election in Tamaulipas, which has become one of Mexico's most violent states.

"This crime ... threatens the core values and freedoms of all Mexicans such as democracy and is therefore doubly condemnable," the Mexico City Archdiocese said in a June 28 statement. "This act of violence attempts to rob Mexico of its dignity and desire for transparency, pluralism, freedom and ability to overcome."

The murder casts a further pall over the gubernatorial elections in 12 states, which have been marred by allegations of local governments using social programs for coercive get-out-the-vote schemes and suspicions that organized crime leaders might attempt to corrupt or disrupt the electoral process. In Tamaulipas, one mayoral candidate already was shot dead, while opposition parties reported difficulties finding candidates to run for public office. Many mayors in cities bordering the Rio Grande Valley of Texas reportedly live in the United States and commute to work in Mexico.

Violence has been widespread because the state is a key transit point for exporting drugs and importing weapons. The violence has escalated of late as several cartels have reportedly sent toughs to Tamaulipas to exterminate Los Zetas, a notorious group of ex-soldiers who previously were the armed wing of the local Gulf Cartel. Some church officials preferred not to comment on the situation or provide their names.

"There's fear ... it's gripping all of the state ... that's all I can say," said a spokesman for the Dioceses of Tampico, which includes an area where 20 bodies from a massacre were discovered June 11. "It's a time in which we have to trust in God," the spokesman added.

 Father Alan Camargo, spokesman for the Matamoros Diocese, said "social psychosis" had taken hold in Tamaulipas. The state has recorded at least 300 deaths in 2010, according to media reports.  The vote will continue, state electoral authorities said. Catholic officials urged residents to vote. Father Camargo, whose diocese borders Brownsville, Texas, said the same violence impacts the church, too. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to Mexico, postponed a visit to the state until October because of security concerns. Parishes in many dioceses have altered Mass times to avoid celebrating the liturgy after dark.

"It's a situation that is surpassing the authorities," Father Camargo said.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Death-row inmate Ledell Lee. A ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier says was misleadingly obtained cleared the way for Arkansas to execute Ledell Lee on Thursday, April 20, 2017, although he still had pending requests for reprieve. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP)
To take Holy Communion in the face of death is to say that it is fellowship, and not food, that matters most.
Terrance KleinApril 26, 2017
A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
“Peace be with you” was the message of the Risen Jesus to his disciples on the first Easter, and it is the message Francis will bring to the Muslim and Christian communities in this land.
Gerard O'ConnellApril 26, 2017
Pope Francis is presented with a football helmet by Michigan football team coach Jim Harbaugh during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Coach Jim Harbaugh presented a custom Wolverines helmet and a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers to Pope Francis.
Michael J. O'LoughlinApril 26, 2017
The 'Hamlet'-inspired play made the playwright Tom Stoppard an overnight sensation.
David StewartApril 26, 2017